Sacred Heart University Breaks Ground on Ice Arena

Sacred Heart University, located in Fairfield, Conn., has officially broken ground on the construction of a $70 million ice arena to be located in west campus. The arena continues a multiyear expansion program that aims to foster personal development, student growth, and student engagement, says SHU President John J. Petillo.

The arena will play home to the university’s men’s and women’s Division I hockey teams, the figure skating team, the men’s club team, and the women’s club team (whose inaugural season is set for fall 2021).

“This arena will be a Division I intercollegiate skating cornerstone and one of the best in the Northeast,” said Jim Barquinero, the university’s senior vice president for enrollment and athletics. “In addition to providing a sophisticated and beautiful home venue for our teams, it will serve our entire university community and residents throughout the region.”

The new arena will be named in honor of Marisa and Frank Martire, who donated $5 million to the arena’s development. Frank Martire is a graduate of SHU from the 1960s, serves as chairman of the university’s board of trustees, and holds an equity interest in the NHL’s Vegas Golden Knights.

The facility will measure in at more than 122,000 square feet and include state-of-the-art ice management technology to maintain the NHL regulation-size rink (200 feet by 85 feet). The complex will also include locker rooms, workout facilities, a sports medicine and hydrotherapy suite, practice rooms, and meeting and lounge areas. Figure skaters will benefit from a pro-motion training harness and their own custom-designed locker room.

The rink’s first action is already scheduled for Jan. 14, 2023, when the men’s ice hockey team will face off against Boston College. The women’s team’s first game will take place the following day against Harvard University.

“This is a historic day, not only for the university, but for our hockey programs,” said men’s ice hockey team head coach C.J. Marottolo. “This arena has NHL amenities with a collegial feel. Our teams and students will have a place to call home, and that really fills my heart.”

Thomas O’Malley, head coach of the women’s ice hockey team, agrees wholeheartedly: “We are so excited for the new arena and what it will do for our team,” he said. “It’s going to continue to allow us to recruit and bring in Division I student-athletes here to SHU.”

The facility is also sure to delight hockey fans with a hanging scoreboard, lighting effects, a pro shop, food and beverage facilities, and luxury suites. “Sacred Heart spent a lot of time focusing on the fan experience,” said Barquinero. “We want this arena to be a destination for fans and families to enjoy cheering on the Pioneers. From fan engagement, youth programs, high school games, and open skate, all are welcome.”

About the Author

Matt Jones is senior editor of Spaces4Learning. He can be reached at [email protected].